Advocates Organize for Public Housing at Task Force Meeting
(APN) DECATUR — Over 50 activists and concerned citizens gathered at the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church on E. Ponce de Leon Avenue Thursday to discuss the plight of public housing residents during the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless’s monthly coalition meeting.
Anita Beaty, Executive Director of the Task Force, Diane Wright, President of Hollywood Courts apartments Resident Advisory Board (RAB), and Shirley Hightower, President of Bowen Homes RAB, briefed the audience on the current public housing situation.
Those in attendance were asked to join together and stand up to the powers that be. Later, speakers urged the audience to attend the public meeting at the Fulton County Courthouse Thursday night. The meeting was moved to City Hall with no notice to residents at the last minute.
“We have an opportunity and an obligation to stop this now,” Beaty said of the public housing demolition that will send thousands of residents into the unknown.
“It’s land grabbing in the worst form and we in Atlanta are absolutely the best in the world at it,” Beaty continued. “We need to join forces and go on the record [to demand] that this stop,” she said.
Sandra Robertson, who is involved with the U.S. Social Forum and directs the Hunger Coalition, spoke about the power of the spoken word.
“We have so much power within us that we don’t use,” Robertson said. “We don’t use our voice.”
“No is a powerful word. No, I won’t let you take people’s housing away for no reason,” she said.
One activist said it is not enough to just show up. Rather, it is vital that those that do show up arrive armed with a plan of action.
“We came into the game a little late,” Leonard Tate said, “which means we have to take some drastic measures.”
“They’re way deep into the game now, he continued. “I’m looking for remedies.”
“We are living remedies,” Troy Harris, who works with the Task Force, answered later. “We just need to show up.”
Harris added if enough people continue to show up every time, the powers that be are eventually going to have to take notice.
“We want to take over that meeting,” Wright said of the 6 p.m. meeting that took place at Atlanta City Hall.
“We’ll be going to the meetings, every time there is a public meeting there is going to be an opportunity to speak and make this issue very clear to the public,” Beaty said.
Beaty said there are lawyers working together with activists investigating legal precedence and other sections of the law that could be used during possible future litigation.
“If we have to go to the courts, we are prepared to do that,” Beaty said.
Hightower said she is gathering residents who face early eviction from other communities and taking them in large groups to public meetings like the one that took place Thursday night.
“I’m asking for help, not just for Hollywood or Bowen” but for all public housing communities,” Wright said.
“We are decent people,” Hightower said. “Don’t throw us out as if we were trash. We have rights.”
“This is the last time we have an opportunity to save something that people need,” Beaty said.
“There are a lot of not right things going on,” Robertson said. “We have the power within us to put [evil] in check.”
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Jonathan Springston is a Senior Staff Writer with Atlanta Progressive News and may be reached at email@example.com.
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